Good morning, Delhi city: First India impressions blog, gallery

Arrived in India’s capital, Delhi, the great metropolitan of which is home to about 20 million.

As part of my first trip abroad for the Asia and Pacific Seed Association (APSA), I’m here for about a week for a hybrid-rice study tour which will take me and my new company camera and laptop to cover visits to farms near Delhi, Agra, Raipur and Hyderabad.

Flight landed down about 8pmish, and I almost didn’t get through immigration as I forgot to find out which hotel I had been booked in by my group’s coordinator, and the booking information was technically required by Indian immigration.

Patience and a cool head (thanks Thailand) eventually saw me through the line and ushered into India.

After searching, waiting and finally meeting our welcoming party, then hopped into a taxi, ultimately ending up back at a hotel in the Patel Nagar part of West Delhi district.

The first impression, Indians in this city love to honk! And it’s all part of the traffic. Usually, if a Thai honks, they’re fully enraged, and ready to unleash all their fury if the recipient challenges the honk…not here, it’s just part of the flow.

By the time I got checked in it was too late for me to do much other than wind down to some telly and room service treats of garlic naan with chana masala (spiced chickpeas), topped off with a chocolate milk shake.

Up bright and early with the relentless car horn symphony of the Delhi boulevard, I gathered my Nikon V1 and head out into the back alleys adjacent my hotel for some street photography. (Saving the company camera shooting for when we start touring farms, facilities in the coming days).

Wasn’t but 10 seconds out of the front door of my hotel that a family of beggars spotted me… “Baby, baby,” along with some unidentified Hindi and pointing to a cradled infant and signalling eating gestures made it clear they weren’t seeking fruitless cultural exchange. Welcome to India!

I restrained from giving the young kids any money at first, told them I would come back when I had some cash, as I wanted to break my 500-rupee bills into smaller denominations.

Now I’m not going to start running around handing out cash to beggars here, as it would never end, but I did intend to take a photo or two of the first beggars to rush me, so in exchange I ended up parting with about 30 rupees later that morning. The photo gallery below wouldn’t be the same without it. Money well spent.

However, after the extended family of beggars up the road got wind of the stupid tourist with his camera and pockets full of cash, a stampede of beggars on the busy street was brewing, and I didn’t want to be responsible for any eager beggar traffic accident so had to make my exit quickt back to the sanctity of the guarded hotel grounds.

My ensuing walking tour of this part of town’s back alleys was complemented with a tuk tuk tour of temples and streets in the vicinity which put me back about 200 rupees, no doubt inflated tourist price, but hey, who’s complaining?

Since they say a picture is worth 1,000 words, below is a gallery featuring about 50,000 words’ worth of imagery of my first impressions of India. One final note, I probably won’t get much chance to blog here more the rest of this week but will be taking plenty of India photos, with my coverage of the tour to be shared on APSA’s social media channels as follows: LinkedInTwitterFacebook and GooglePlus

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